How do you hem lederhosen correctly?

Types of leather

What is leather

Leather is traditionally processed animal hide, which is tanned and thus made durable. Leather is therefore traded as a natural product. Depending on the type, the following leather properties are possible:

  • Coarse to supple
  • Rough to soft
  • Thick to thin
  • Fine to coarse grain
  • Tear-proof
  • Full grain to sanded
  • Robust to sensitive
  • Warming to cooling
  • Matt to glossy

Danger: High quality leather is characterized by its softness, natural look, stability and tear resistance.

The characteristic pattern on the surface of the leather is called the grain pattern. This smooth, pitted side is also called the pitted side. The fur hair was previously found on it, the remains of which are the scars. In contrast, the rough back of the leather is called the flesh side.

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What types of leather are there?

Leather is available in different variations. But there are striking differences between the individual types of leather. A distinction must be made between:


Untreated animal skin


Processed animal hide

Coated leather

Leather with a layer of binding agents or foil with a thickness of up to 0.15 mm, which makes it more durable and more stain- and water-repellent

Pigmented leather

Dyed leather that becomes more robust through pigmentation

Split leather

Sensitive and inferior leather that is created by cutting the animal hide into layers. A distinction is made between grain gap (layers towards the grain side) and meat gap (layers towards the meat side). In the case of thicker animal skins, there may be a middle or intermediate gap. The meat split is finally referred to as split leather.

Embossed leather

Leather, mostly split leather, which does not have a natural or any other grain and is therefore embossed with a (new) one

Aniline leather

Open-pored leather without a layer of paint

Patent leather

Leather covered with lacquer that is very shiny

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Real leather

Real leather is available from different animal species. The varieties range from leather from traditional farm animals such as cattle, sheep and goats, through wild animals such as deer and roe deer to exotic animals such as crocodiles, snakes, rays or kangaroos. Fish also use the cuticle as leather for clothing and accessories. Salmon leather in particular is considered luxury leather and has a variety of special features that you can read about in our article.



In addition to real leather, there are now leather alternatives that have similar properties but do not cost animal life. These are called vegan leather or leatherette designated. In that case, it is imitation leather that is made from natural plant materials (e.g. hemp, cork, pineapple fiber) or plastics (e.g. polyurethane and polyester) and are very similar to real leather in terms of their properties and even their appearance. Compared to real leather, artificial leather also has the advantage that it is usually less sensitive to dirt, water and solar radiation. Sometimes it is even more tear-resistant and much cheaper than the original. You can find tips for sewing leather in the article Sewing Leather - Tips and Tricks.

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Basically, you can choose between the following smooth and suede leathers:

smooth leather

All types of leather whose grained side is processed on the outside are considered to be smooth leather.


Nappa leather

Fine, full-grain and particularly soft leather

Named after the US city of Napa Valley

Chrome tanned

Mostly from sheep or calf

Used especially for gloves

Saffiano leather / morocco leather

Fine, soft goatskin with grain

Named after the Moroccan city of Safi

Russia leather

Use as upper leather for shoes

Firm, supple, waterproof leather

Vegetable tanned

Made from veal or beef skin


Dense sheepskin leather

Used for gloves


Supple, soft leather with a fine-grain surface

Similar to saffiano leather

Ecrasé leather

Colored, smooth leather

With artificially embossed grain

Mostly made from goat skin


Leather from the dorsal hide of ungulates

With artificially pressed grain pattern

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All rough leathers can be summarized under suede. Mostly these are sanded surfaces that have a roughened to velvety look and feel.



From wild animals such as deer or roe deer

Leather with a roughened surface


Leather with a roughened, velvet-like surface

A bit rough to the touch due to the coarse fibers

Two types: the back of smooth leather or the two sides of a meat gap

Breathable thanks to the open-pored surface

Nubuck leather

Grain side sanded leather

Velvety, soft surface thanks to the fine pile

Made from cow, sheep or goat skin


Soft leather

Made of suede from deer, roe deer, reindeer, goats or sheep

Tanned with oil or oil

Often used for traditional leather

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How do you care for leather?

Caring for leather is essential. Because clothing and accessories made of leather are often expensive and therefore require a conscious cleaning process:

To washUse moisturizing leather detergent

Wash at max. 40 ° C

Low speed!

Note: Leather can be washed for hygienic reasons or to remove dirt.

dryAir dry
IronDepending on the type of leather, ironing may be used

Tip: Be sure to place a cotton or organza cloth in between as protection.

LickIn order to prevent the leather from becoming stiff and brittle after cleaning, it must be re-greased.

On the other hand, the surface of rough leathers has to be brushed or re-sanded.

ImpregnateIn order to avoid water stains, leather must be made waterproof.

Tip: It is worthwhile to take the leather parts to a specialist cleaning service at certain intervals.

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Care tips for leather

Mostly mistakes are made in the leather treatment during cleaning. In order to enjoy the leather for as long as possible, it is worth paying attention to a few tips on care:

  1. The type of leather before care and cleaning
  2. Follow the care instructions for the type of leather.
  3. First test cleaning attempts on a concealed area for effectiveness.
  4. Note the differences in stain removal:
  • Pigmented smooth leather: use a damp cloth
  • Open-pored leather: Wash yourself or bring to a dry cleaner
  • Suede: brush out gently
  1. Use a soft cloth to dust.

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Aids for leather care

A number of helpful utensils are available for leather care:

Care creamDeep care for more shine
oilMoisturizing care for brittle or stiff leather
balmProtective care that closes pores and strengthens the water and dirt repellent properties.
Impregnation sprayProtective care to protect the leather against water and moisture and to prevent brittleness.

Tip: Only use creams, greases, oils and balms to care for smooth leather, as suede tends to stain.

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How do you process leather?

There are no limits to leather processing and the material can be used for a variety of different items of clothing and patterns. In fashion, shoes, bags and belts are the most popular types of leather processing.

Tip: When preparing the leather for sewing, make sure that all pattern pieces are cut lengthways. Because leather can only be torn in the transverse direction. If a suede is processed, one should make sure that the stroke direction runs from top to bottom.

When sewing leather, we recommend using special leather needles, a Teflon or roller foot, and polyester thread. For more details on sewing hems, edges, buttonholes and bags with leather, see our tips and tricks for sewing leather. There you will also find sewing instructions for sewing a leather top.

You can also be inspired by the following patterns and sewing instructions for a cut with leather:

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Show trousers with leather trim

For riders, real leather trimmings on their clothing offer a firm hold in the saddle and thus the best possible fit. It doesn't slip too much, but it doesn't stick either. In addition, unlike other materials, the leather is gentle on the saddle. In addition, it is extremely durable. We show you how to sew riding competition trousers with leather trimmings in the Ladies' Rundschau 10/2018. Or in our web article “Sewing riding clothes”.

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Fanny pack made of synthetic leather

A fanny pack is not only practical, but also a real eye-catcher. It can be combined with almost anything and turns every outfit into a style statement. Would you like to sew a fanny pack out of artificial leather?

In Damenrundschau 05/18 you will find the appropriate patterns and sewing instructions for sewing your own fanny pack. The article “Sewing a belt bag - Fanny Pack” on our website offers you initial inspiration.

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Leather jeans with fringes

Leather as a material for jackets or trousers never goes out of style. No matter whether simple or with decorations and applications - the leather pants are always an eye-catcher! In our article "Constructing leather jeans with fringes" you will find instructions on how to construct a pattern for leather jeans with fringes. Further details on this and other trouser cuts can also be found in our specialist book DOB pattern construction trousers.

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Leather gloves

Gloves are not just an accessory. When properly styled, they can become a real it-piece. Types of leather such as nappa leather, suede or suede are also often used for gloves. You can find out all the important tips to keep in mind when sewing gloves in our “Sewing Gloves” instructions.

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Traditional leather pants

The lederhosen are the symbol of tradition. It is made from deerskin, which is particularly robust. Depending on the region, it is embroidered with white, yellow or green hand-made embroidery. You can find detailed instructions for creating a pattern for leather shorts and knee breeches as well as many other patterns for men's costumes in our book Patterns for Trachtenmode: Trachten für Männer. In our article “The Lederhose - Tradition and Cult” you can also find out more about the history of Lederhose.

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First published in 2019, last updated on December 12, 2019.